Archive for February, 2010

Portfolio: Richard Hawkins

Monday, February 1st, 2010

All you Richard Hawkins fans will be pleased to know you can now visit the new Richard Hawkins’ Digital Archive — a more complete collection of Richard’s high quality graphics, both moving and still.


The Jitterbug Transformation

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Animated GIF (right-click to copy)

Space-filling Jitterbug Transformation

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Spinning MITE

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Synergetics on the Web
maintained by Kirby Urner

Concentric Hierarchy

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Part 1 of 2


Synergetics, departing from convention, replaces the cube with the regular tetrahedron as its principal unit of volume. The four-sided tetrahedron is the simplest possible enclosure — which is why mathematicians call it a “simplex”. Drawn as a cage, or wire frame, it has four windows, four corners and six edges. No space-enclosing network has fewer windows (facets) than four. The cube (or hexahedron), by contrast, has six facets, eight corners, and twelve edges, whereas a geodesic sphere may consist of hundreds or even thousands of facets!

Given the status of the simplex as “simplest space-enclosing network”, the decision to use its regular form as a unit of volume makes some sense. As a consequence of this decision, we obtain whole number volumes for other familiar shapes (including for the cube). This aesthetically pleasing and streamlining result provides additional reinforcement for those taking the time to learn this alternative (yet logical) approach to spatial geometry.

The tetrahedron has another interesting and unique property: its dual is also the tetrahedron. We get a shape’s dual by switching faces for corners and vice versa, while keeping the number of edges unchanged. The cube and octahedron are duals, as are the cuboctahedron and rhombic dodecahedron.


The dual of a shape need not be any specific size, however we may specify that the edges of the two shapes intersect at right angles. By combining duals in this way, we define the vertices of additional shapes. For example, the regular tetrahedron and its dual (also a tetrahedron) intersect to form a cube. Likewise, when we intersect the edges of a cube with its dual, the octahedron, we get the vertices of a rhombic dodecahedron.

The volumes for the shapes mentioned and displayed so far are as follows:

Shape Volume Tetrahedron 1 Duo-Tet Cube 3 Octahedron 4 Rhombic Dodecahedron 6


The cube and rhombic dodecahedron are both space-fillers, meaning they fill space without gaps. The tetrahedron and octahedron fill space in complement (by working together) with twice as many tetrahedra as octahedra.

We can put spheres inside each rhombic dodecahedron of volume six, sized to touch its twelve rhombic face centers. When these volume 6 dodecahedra pack together to fill space, the spheres will be tangent to one another at these 12 “kissing points”. Each sphere will be tangent to 12 neighbors (unless at the border of the packing arrangement).


These spheres we define to be of unit radius. The unit volume tetrahedron is formed by four such spheres and has edges of 2 radii, or one diameter in length.

The 12 neighbors to each nuclear sphere in the above packing will be at the vertices of a cuboctahedron. This cuboctahedron has volume 20 relative to our sphere-diameter-edged tetrahedron of volume one. The cuboctahedron’s 12 radial (center-to-corner) and 24 circumferential (corner-to-corner) edges are all the same length: one sphere diameter (the same as the tetrahedron’s).


In Part II of The Synergetics Hierarchy of Concentric Polyhedra, the Jitterbug Transformation will be introduced as a conceptual bridge from the above family of shapes to another family with five-fold rotational symmetry.

For further reading:

Synergetics on the Web
maintained by Kirby Urner

Brainstorming on BuckyWorks

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Chapter 8: The User Interface

A dwelling utility with Java-enabled appliances and environment controls would need control panels from whence users could manually override and otherwise manipulate any user-inputs. A cost-effective approach to panel design uses HTML-embedded Java applets, which allows for easy reformatting and customization of controls according to well-known standards, while providing continuity with remote-server accessibility. Tech support could easily call up a troublesome page and help operators debug various problems. Java’s security features will keep the dwelling’s environment controls from being meddled with by unwelcome intruders, even at times when certain controls may have been made accessible, for debugging or discussion purposes.

Of course HTML is good for embedding more than simply Java. A Windows-based pod might tie the coffee-maker, air conditioning, light depolorizers (variable-light windows), solar collectors, battery units etc. to custom applications with an OLE link to HTML front ends. The reason for favoring Java might be the pedigree of the Java language: it originally grew up in a device-controlling context (but then so did C, or even ADA for that matter). There’s nothing to keep an operator from gathering her own favorite devices and drivers and writing controlling language in Visual FoxPro, for example. Here, the devices themselves will be ‘black boxes’ concealed in wrapper classes, with the user’s native language cementing the devices in a common database table-driven environment, which may be ideal for some applications (our dwelling units are not uniformly deployed, we must keep reiterating — it’s not useful to overspecialize the dwelling unit concept when giving broad parameterizations regarding their internals).

In any case, the central schematic is of user-controllable electronics with automatic features, based on various optimization schemes, including fuzzy logic. Especially with regard to environment controls, where counterproductive heating and cooling strategies can gobble precious wattage, taking away from the other electronics, optimization is critical.

The downloading dish (or other device) will allow operators in the field to try out the most robust beta and commercial device driver suites, which will be tied into the dwelling’s other parameter sets (e.g. battery level, collector efficiency, insulation rating etc. — both constant and variable settings) to provide optimized ways of providing comfort amidst a unique, customizable ensemble of trade-offs and constraints.

The village model brings a new level of VLSI to the picture, with a central server keeping tabs on numerous workspace-level stats, while having central responsibility for shared resource and energy harvesting equipment (e.g. the communal solar farm and hydrogen-by-electrolysis fuel harvesting plant).

Village-level software needs to accommodate both long and short term needs, e.g. building up the hydrogen supply during off-peak usage periods. Villages with power-feed responsibilities, e.g. those tending micro-hydro or other energy- source inputs to a more central grid, will likewise use control paneling on a more central server to balance village needs with export/trade formulas negotiated over time, used to bring in various currencies and credits required for accessing remote hosts (which might be other villages, institutions of higher learning, or corporate inventories).

Whether Java comprises the low-level device driving language for all of these dwelling unit and village level applications is not an issue to speculate about: people with strong competence in whatever device-control language will be in a position to bundle useful tools with software controls and a well-defined parameter set (output readouts) plus API (callable routines). Middle-ware can get between the device API-readouts and the user, sometimes hiding low-level device controls in Java wrapper classes or some other language more familiar to the end user.

The market needs to keep the space for user-intervention wide open, as many of the operators who download new controllers will also be in the business of writing the next generation and need to be allowed into whatever internals have relevance to their task, provided they have the requisite training (test modeling requires relatively little training, but software bound for FTP sites and the general public will have to go through stringent testing, meaning its developers will retreat to the drawing boards numerous times in any typical scenario where total quality management practices are in effect).

Prototyping of cooling controls in the Arizona desert can be uncomfortable work for those field-testing next year’s model, but the work is interesting, and we’ll presume last year’s Airstream in the background, with its clunky, inefficient air conditioning, available as a fall-back.

The after market here envisioned parallels the desktop computer industry in that hardware is sold bundled with device driving software and documentation. The higher end hardware has EPROM or other FLASH-type memory allowing as much of the device driving as is practical to remain at the software level, hardware electronics phasing in only at the level where dedicated mechanics are required to optimize performance (where speed and throughput considerations usually predominate). Since changes to the API will have ripple effects when devices are embedded in the local ecology, upgrade paths must be well signed. Users who download a new driver for their coffee-maker need to be clearly warned if the ON switch has been coupled with a self-turnoff default or of any other bell/whistle that, if not documented, might result in cold coffee at 6 AM, or worse.

Most standard configurations of dwelling machine will be leased with preinstalled drivers all known to be well-behaved and compatible with one another, and the models used to control these devices will be standardized around a few simple concepts. The fine tuning and super-optimization experiments resulting in highly efficient designs for desert living and so on, will be part of the after market, with standard unit vendors having the option to enter into this field or not, depending on a host of factors. A vendor based in a harsh environment, like Siberia, had better provide robust heat control ensembles or go out of business. But this vendor may rely on distant sources for its Siberia-rated hardware/software (Nordic input is likely on this front).

Whereas the standard model has internal climate-control and internet/intranet capabilities, specialized models will add or subtract features as needed. One of the more specialized add-ons is the pneumatic VR workstation, which supports the user on a spatially adjustable platform, usually a chair, where tilt and roll are software-linked to the display (either in-helmet or on screen).

Some kinds of development work, either for the entertainment industry, flight, submarine or terrain vehicle simulation, require such pneumatic (or other servo-mechanism) controls for realism. Pods which combine such features with standard kitchenette, head, studio, and sleep space will be prone to their own brand of problem. Tech support for VR requires a special breed of remote user, willing to patch in to an operators problem VR program and feel the buck-and-twist of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride through some wild simulation. In special situations, crash dummies should be substituted for the flesh and blood user.

Project Renaissance

Monday, February 1st, 2010

The Project Renaissance

Approach to Public-Private Enterprising

Distribution: Internet, Press
Version: 1.05
Originally Posted: 04 June, 1997
Last Modified: 08 June, 1997
Author: Kirby Urner
Company: 4D Solutions


  1. What is Project Renaissance?
  2. Who Participates?
  3. What are the Projected Outcomes?

What is Project Renaissance?

Project Renaissance is an approach for integrating public and private enterprising into a unified model or rubric. The concepts are in the public domain and no trademark or copyright ownership of the central Project Renaissance name or literature is expressed or implied.

The Project Renaissance approach seeks to converge the not-for-profit sector with the R&D operations of high technology enterprises, which have likewise historically received generous treatment from the government, especially in times of war – hot or cold.

The USA Johnson Era War on Poverty programs, these days branded a failure which even liberals have a hard time defending, at least captured the ‘moral equivalent of war’ rhetoric, but did little at the bookkeeping level to motivate the transition to a peace-time economy characterized by opportunities for advancement at all socioeconomic levels.

Indeed the Vietnam War was in full swing at the time and prime contractor relationships between Washington DC and high tech R&D divisions, via such Manhattan Project legacy institutions as the national labs (e.g. Los Alamos), think tanks such as the RAND corporation, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), left little room in the budget, or on the drafting tables of USA engineering studios, for a Project Renaissance approach. So what has changed? The American people, promised a Peace Dividend at the conclusion of the more overt phases of the Cold War, have yet to relinquish their historical fascination with positive future scenarios, as typified by Walt Disney’s groundbreaking creation of his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT), wherein brand name corporations would showcase prototypes, working models, drawing board solutions, and garner public feedback – a combination of market research and willing guinea pigging, in this case providing all the safeguards expected of Disney-quality family entertainment theme parks.

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Given this latent optimism about the future, always just beneath a more cynical surface, cogent story boarding showing how the Peace Dividend may indeed be deployed in a real time context, without loss of security or exposure to unacceptable levels of terrorist threat, immediately attracts a receptive audience. Enter Project Renaissance.

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Project Renaissance converges Hollywood experience in scripting and casting with military experience in contracting for and testing prototypes, and focuses the synergies thereby derived within the noncommercial, public service sector, with an eye towards field testing new solutions at the ‘front lines’, in a real time ‘school of hard knocks’, the outcomes of which will be, in many cases if not most, commercializable goods and services, ready for vending to the public at large.

The public, in the meantime, will already have some clear ideas about how the new products and services are used, having tuned in lots of media ‘from the front’ showing the prototype versions in action, often in demanding situations (more demanding than the average civilian is likely to encounter, unless volunteering for duty in public service, or unlucky, as when involuntarily subjected to severe weather or other harsh environmental conditions).

Who Participates?

Prototyping work may be exciting, sexy, and attractive to people who wish to excel and gain recognition for their competency and skills. Test pilots generally fall into this category, as do astronauts, technology jocks (both female and male) and other forms of dare devil. However, given the often times significant investments riding on the success of a prototyping venture, set-backs owing to over confidant or cavalier behavior or foolish misjudgments of the true risks involved need to be minimized.

So between the gung-ho would-be star performers in Project Renaissance scenarios, and their dream jobs (or roles – Disney referred to his human resources division as the ‘casting’ department), one or more layers of ‘gatekeeper’ intervene, trainers and recruiters of various stripes charged with ensuring that trainees advancing through their ‘gates’ have attained an appropriate level of mastery.

Such screening never completely precludes the possibility of disaster, nor of people ‘slipping through’ on the basis of fraudulence or other leaks in the gating system. Furthermore, highly trained professionals with all the necessary skills and credentials may nevertheless find themselves participating in a no-win situation, either because the prototype is in some way fundamentally flawed, or owing to freakish circumstances beyond the control of participants. The goal of the gating system is to establish the conditions necessary for optimized field testing, and not to assure in advance that all field tests or missions will succeed (in which case they would not really be tests).

For example, remotely deployed Fly’s Eyes, hard-shell dwelling units, optionally tripod-based and outfitted with telecommunications and sensing equipment, take skill to operate, especially in harsh environments such as close to the poles or in ecosystems with little use for humans. Trainees operating these units must know what to do when critical systems fail, when to call for emergency evacuation as a last resort and so on. Trainees must also know how to follow ‘zero-impact’ guidelines when this protocol is in effect, meaning the team will leave approximately no trace of its presence once the mission (perhaps a survey mission) is complete.

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Beyond certification on various technologies, however, trainees will in many instances be called upon to evidence high level ‘people skills’. The public service community, via UNESCO, UNHCR, CARE, the Red Cross, and other well known NGO operations, has historically been charged with all kinds of disaster relief, rescue, evacuation and medical response missions.

These operations typically require line of supply logistics, command and control, communications, crowd management, triage, rapid deployment, rapid pull-out and so on. Of course NATO provides similar services, with greater emphasis on weaponry, but the central point is the same: trainees may be called upon to exhibit extremely high levels of proficiency in languages, diplomacy and negotiating skills, often under time pressure, with grave consequences attending any delays.

Project Renaissance works to minimize the size and intensity of such ‘crisis’ situations however, as the human design has its limits and will fail under extreme conditions, as will any special case design. Putting humans in intractable and superhumanly difficult situations is generally to be avoided except perhaps in certain simulated situations.

Thinking, planning and storyboarding provide an antidote to a purely ’emergence by emergency’ approach of lurching from one crisis to the next, wherein humans predictably suffer a decreased ability to coordinate, or even freeze into a panic-stricken, immobilized mode, neither of which conditions helps us get a grip on the situation.

Uncoordinated or inappropriate responses, including violently damaging ones, are symptomatic of humans pushed beyond the limits of their present capabilities and is often a manifestation of having done too little too late in anticipation of contingencies that might have been planned around or otherwise prepared for, had the relevant situation rooms worked harder to keep abreast of real time developments around the world and in its surrounding space.

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Project Renaissance aims at providing plenty of historical, computer simulated, extrapolated and real time global data, so that humans may provide themselves with the most relevant kinds of preparation and training. Project Renaissance also looks to what R. Buckminster Fuller termed “comprehensive anticipatory design science” for clues as to what might be in store in upcoming chapters of the humans in Universe story, which has already proved to be something of a cliff-hanger (or ‘touch and go’ as Fuller would put it).

All of the foregoing analysis, starting with a focus on willing recruits anxious for front lines experience, moving through systems of gate keepers or trainers based around the need for a huge variety of skill sets among trainees, and concluding with a commitment to assist people in staying well-versed in big picture planning, via access to timely global data, is but the tip of the iceberg, a quick overview of the Project Renaissance context. A more detailed treatment of public-private enterprise management is taken up in General Systems Theory (GST) in the form of curriculum coursework and hands-on work-study engagements. Access to Project Renaissance top management positions requires a high level of mastery of GST concepts and their application in real time.

What are the Projected Outcomes?

Project Renaissance is about converging civilian and military disciplines into a more unified set of public services which tackle difficult problems faced by humans, families and communities both locally and overseas. The Peace Corps (with analogous services in other countries, e.g. WUSC, UNV…) provides a lot of useful templates for how these services will look, but with the added dimension of higher levels of technology (designed for appropriate use), more characteristic of the military.

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For example, there’s no reason why aircraft or helicopter carriers can’t be used as valuable assets in support of ground-based emergency relief or evacuation efforts (indeed, USA aircraft carriers have been involved in just such evacuation missions recently, off the coast of West Africa for example). Some of the personnel operating these assets may have trained in NATO — others may have a background with Greenpeace. Despite past political differences, both the military and the NGO sector have produced personnel with complementary and compatible training.

The expected outcome is a growing inventory of ‘props’ available for use within storyboarded ‘theater’, as per General Systems Theory’s model of the Projects Completion Cycle. Many of these inventory items will have been brainstormed and prototyped in the field by private firms, with an eye towards commercializing the perfected models and offering them for sale or via leasing agreements through networks of value-adding resellers (VARS) or direct outlets.

Whereas commercial advertising will remain in the picture, a lot of the best PR will have come into viewer living rooms from the front line operations theaters, or from lower profile situation room scenes — often shown in real time ala Houston’s Mission Control or NORAD, not just as Hollywood-style mock ups. Although mock ups are often more impressive than their real world counterparts, they fail an important relevance test when showcasing technologies we have no idea how to actually implement in real time, as in the Star Trek scenarios, which feature a ‘Federation Science’ only hypothetically available to humanity in the 24th century (western calendar).

Project Renaissance style ‘science fiction’, by contrast, is both ‘near future’ and centered around existing, accessible, operational props and prototypes. Project Renaissance storyboards are critically dependent only on currently attained levels of comprehension of scientific principles. Not every storyboard launched in the public domain for testing and feedback should or will be implemented, at least on the scale originally planned, but at least the degree of realism will remain high, so that the general public will not be overly confused as to their options, which confusion too often leads to voting taxpayers pinning lots of hope on scenarios that scientists and engineers simply cannot make real, hence wasting valuable time and investments and resulting in widespread cynicism and dissillusionment with the political process.

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According to this Project Renaissance storyboard, we anticipate that the general public will not generally begrudge the tax-exempt status given the public service sector, nor the tax-breaks afforded corporate R&D departments, given ample media unambiguously documenting the positive impact of Project Renaissance type programming. The commercial sector will not complain (or at least not too loudly) that their operations are adversely affected by all this focus on noncommercial programming because so many of the goods and services it markets will have derived from public sector risk-taking. Furthermore, commercial enterprises will be actively engaged in exchanging information and personnel within this public sector context, finding the positive synergies discovered in field testing are a constant source of new ideas for commercial operations and collaborative ventures.

Finally, the viewing public, which includes people from all walks of life, will in many cases feel drawn to get involved, to do more than passively experience all the action via one-way television. Two-way, interactive circuits within the living room or home office context, giving viewers ways to track favorite teams (sometimes including friends and acquaintances), will likewise supply a variety of channels for providing teams with backing, both directly and indirectly, monetarily and otherwise. These ‘distance education’ circuits are already in place, and are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent with each passing day. Schools are coming on-line and will also have many opportunities to mix classroom experience with community service opportunities, with some of the action on screen suggesting role models worth emulating, despite the long years of training that may sometimes be required before joining an all-star cast.

In sum, media programming designed to provide sustainably higher living standards on a global basis is inherently interesting, and the products and services stemming from this programming, perhaps soon to appear via local outlets and distributorships, will require lots of time, energy and human ingenuity to perfect in the field, and to variously integrate into our increasingly complex econosphere, characterized by many differently organized and differently performing cultures — more all the time as communities experiment with new ways of integrating various traditions, sometimes producing attractive and viable results (of course folks will always disagree when it comes to matters of taste).

Project Renaissance, with the emerging disciplines of General Systems Theory and Design Science to back it up (among others), is a logical extrapolation of many trends and already tested models. It provides a way to maintain continuity and professionalism for those trained in a military context, while bringing high technology corporate R&D divisions under a new umbrella, to be shared with public sector operations, including religiously minded ones, not as ‘mere charities’ good for PR and tax write-offs, but as partners in prototyping — the public service arena being ‘where the action is’ when it comes to getting our next century (western calendar) off to a promising beginning.

Brainstorming on BuckyWorks

Monday, February 1st, 2010

by Kirby Urner
First Posted: June, 1996
Version 1.04 (10 October 1997)
© 1996, 4D Solutions

With the publication of J. Baldwin’s superb volume, BuckyWorks, with its detailed and appealing descriptions of the new props we might introduce on the world stage in support of more sustainable, more sharable life styles, the question becomes one of how to move these artifacts from the drawing board or, in many cases, from a realized prototype phase, to full implementation as plentifully supplied assets.

book cover

Our situation today in many ways parallels the one confronting the pioneers of the personal computer era just two decades ago. Hobbyists and enthusiasts have seen the future in affordable, technologically advanced housing solutions, but a ‘user friendly interface’ is missing from the picture, such that would-be investors in this technology have no clear pathway into the experience of living in a PillowDome, for example.


The risks and expenses involved dissuade any but the most committed from venturing off the beaten path of Standard Homes and Gardens, as purveyed by the mainstream construction industry and its building codes, zoning laws and attendent Yellow Pages support services (pest control, weatherization, plumbing, remodeling etc).This latter multi-billion dollar industry might be likened to the mainframe culture that dominated all computing prior to the advent of the affordable, personal alternative. Conservative, business-minded individuals simply could not afford to risk their futures on hobbyist solutions as long as Big Blue (IBM) ruled the computing world.

The situation was transformed when IBM itself elected to enter the personal computer market. Today, the Yellow Pages has thickened with entries under Internet and Personal Computer that would have been unthinkable just a short time ago. Surveying the range of technologies poised to enter the popular thinking of our media-saturated culture, we may likewise predict another thickening of the Yellow Pages is about to occur — once the Microsofts and Apples of the new housing revolution emerge from their conceptual (sometimes physical) garages with their new innovations.


The comparison with computers is more fundamental than so far suggested however. As the computer converges with other household devices, such as the television and telephone (and possibly the thermostat and sprinkler system), it becomes less easy to distinguish between the exoskeleton which houses these electronics, and the multi-media internals.


It’s not an over exaggeration to say that the electronics-invested class… is ‘moving in’ to its electronics, in the sense of turning the entire home into some kind of integrated utility box within which the new possibilities and freedoms of cyberspace may be experienced.

The newest, mostly unaffordable homes, have floor plans which accommodate the new American dream of a media room, complete with theater-style, multi-speaker sound systems and large television screens. Beyond this new wrinkle, houses today are expected to accommodate video and data links to the outside world beyond yesterday’s simple telephone and roof-top antenna.Today’s technologies involve cable or satellite dish for receiving video and hi-fi audio, and a high speed data wire, the faster the better (sometimes the fastest solution is not a wire at all, but a wireless connection to the internet). Finally, an increasing percentage of homes play host to networks of more than one computer, configured into a LAN, which generally requires Ethernet cabling or similar wiring solution.

It’s not an over exaggeration to say that the electronics-invested class (the ‘digerati’ as WIRED magazine has taken to calling us) is ‘moving in’ to its electronics, in the sense of turning the entire home into some kind of integrated utility box within which the new possibilities and freedoms of cyberspace may be experienced.

As today’s homes are pressed to accommodate electronics, their shortcomings in this regard become an annoyance. Wiring a home with new circuits, either with conduit for electrical power, or with new data wires, is expensive and means more trips to the Yellow Pages, for all but the handiest. Furthermore, the floor plan may simply not support the optimum arrangement of furniture and appliances to create the media room, home office etc.

The new housing designs suggested by J. Baldwin and company now on the drawing boards will incorporate the kinds of expandable, flexible, configurable modular strategies that coexist most conveniently and economically with the new electronic realities. The ‘personal computer’ and ‘personal work-and-play space’ are in the process of becoming aspects of the same integrated aesthetic.

What would a user-friendly pathway to experiences with the new housing solutions look like? Many would gladly allocate some time and energy trying the new life style and related gadgetry if not in any way coerced to give up what, in many cases, are already very satisfying and ‘dream come true’ domestic situations.

Life in a Fly’s Eye Dome, or some other newfangled dwelling utility, need not begin with some traumatic mile-stone commitment to adopt this new lifestyle ‘forever more.’ On the contrary, the new housing solutions are likely to enter the mainstream in high turnover situations, wherein the dwelling operators come and go, on college campuses for example, or in research settings in the field, where the entire community itself is temporary. Crisis or emergency situations also typically and historically call for novel approaches to providing ‘environment controls’ (a more generic description of the housing function, less likely to evoke stereotypical images of ‘This Old House’).

Fly's Eye and Dymaxion Car

Another cultural institution wherein life style options are explored, without being adopted as permanent, are the camps and retreat centers, often matched with non-urbanized natural settings. Here people congregate for conferences or trainings in circumstances refreshingly different those found in their everyday lives. Here one might find out what life in a PillowDome could be like.

But the above scenarios all presuppose that high tech housing solutions have already made it off the drawing boards and onto the real world stage. Even accepting their initial transitional role as transitory way-stations in most people’s experience, one must ask how these dwelling machines made it this far along the pathway from science fiction to science fact.

The interim phase, between the imagination and production, is in the digital realm of shared consciousness we now call cyberspace. Using VRML, ray traced imagery, the tricks and techniques of the video-game designer, we can simulate our proposed futures in the form of storyboards.

Storyboards represent the initial ‘comic book’ phase of any modern multi-million dollar movie blockbuster. Before the most expensive resources are committed, artists and writers are commissioned to draw the feature out as a series of ‘mock ups’. Graphics, sounds, sketchy outlines of a plot, all enter in at the storyboard phase.

The outline may be linear, as in the case of an actual comic book, or without any set chronology, as when many options, all inter-related, are being explored. Hypertext, the forte of the internet, provides the underlying ecology wherein such simulations, models and storyboards take root and grow.

Hypertext provides the rich context of cultural symbols, allusions, iconography, stereotypes, precedents, drawn upon by artists working to create the new from the old by means of collage. By juxtaposing the old, the time-worn, the tested, in unfamiliar yet fitting ways, the future is made believable, actual, sometimes almost inevitable.

A significant aspect of the global hypertext is the language of advertising and the imagery and iconography it works to sustain. Corporate logos ornament our most-watched events, appearing in stadiums, on the clothing and vehicles of athletes, everywhere in public space, including on our computer and of course our television screens.




The warp and weave of this corporate logo-language, even more so than the older iconography of national flags, is integral to the business interests and economics of our global culture and defines a layer of shared consciousness that defines a gateway between fantasy and reality. Corporations underwrite and sponsor, they bestow their logos upon projects to betoken their reality. Corporations marshal resources, big time.

The symbolic context surrounding a corporation’s reality-making powers meshes inextricably with its financial well-being. The logo- language of advertising and image-making is all part of the ancient alchemy of manipulating ‘power signs’ according to complicated ‘rules of the game’ in order to conserve and if possible amplify reality-defining powers.

But this hypertext reality is not founded on simply smoke and mirrors. Behind the reality-making powers of corporate iconography are the mathematical sciences of design, including competence with instrumentation and proprietary access to trade secrets. Integral to the longevity and health of an enterprise are its sometimes quasi-invisible armies of service-providers, trained to provide some manner of life support, at least to those in the serviced or provided-for community. Beyond the image-making of advertising is the hard work of prototyping, refining, redesigning, testing, and finally releasing to production or general use (what the computer industry terms the ‘roll out’ phase of a product or solution).

The engineering work needed to sketch the general outlines of our corporate storyboard, in accord with understood technologies and physical principles, often juxtaposed in new ways, has been largely accomplished by now. We already have realistic storyboards showing how humanity might invest in new dwelling technologies within the context of a global service industry supplying educational and work-related programming in a networked ‘human centers environment.’

Every individual is likewise an importer and exporter of information goods, a producer and a consumer. The ability of information to propagate and clone without much additional investment of energy allows for an increasingly ‘ephemeralized’ global economy, in which the traffic in intellectual goods (for example, television programming) coincides with the exponentially increasing ‘knowledge worker’ category.

People will use their dwelling utilities to surf through cyberspace, and, as studios, to edit/recombine the imported content into novel, original contributions to that shared, evolving cultural heritage. This description already characterizes much of what goes on in our current information economy, within the mazes of cubicles that constitute the modern information age corporation. The new dwelling machines enter corporate hypertext precisely here, with this concept of ‘the cubicle.’ With corporate citizens increasingly becoming ‘netizens’ and opting to telecommute from home much of the time, the home receives these new pressures to transform into a wired workspace, with the attendent annoyances sketched above. An innovative corporation might offer its workers the option to telecommute from a ‘pod’ instead of from a ‘cubicle’, or from an inadequate, poorly situated Standard Home.


The interface between high technology companies and the university has become increasingly tight, both geographically and conceptually, to the point where ‘campus’ could mean a setting that is primarily academic, corporate, or both. The appearance of high technology ‘pods’ in place of ‘cubicles’ on the modern corporate-university campus is the storyboarded application we can expect to find making its appearance in reality. In that context, corporate logos will become associated with these new dwelling utilities, both as manufacturers and as providers of these newfangled options to their employe-recruits.

This external manifestation of high technology housing will spark self-amplifying feedback loops in cyberspace which draw in the rest of the storyboard elements, including the emergency deployment, temporary field worker, and retreat center scenarios. The larger picture, of humanity finding itself able to afford sufficient housing to sustain high living standards, thereby bringing down birth rates and slowing population growth, will link via hypertext (e.g. the World Wide Web) to these more immediate and visible implementations.

As a focus for positive hopes and longings of humanity for a better future, the new dwellings will gravitationally attract the logo-language of symbolic reality-making. Corporations will be anxious to affix their brands and symbols to the props and services designed to carry us into a preferred future.

The self-amplifying nature of this relationship between media hype and hypertext, between advertising and engineering, has already been experienced in the explosive growth of the personal computer and information superhighway in our culture.

The here-projected “second round” of this spiral, wherein the “house” and “computer” converge more completely, while the internet becomes more integral to our everyday life style, is just now beginning to take off. J. Baldwin’s BuckyWorks is a first sign of its beginning.


For Further Reading
BuckyWorks by J. Baldwin

Other writings by Kirby Urner

Dwelling Machine Prototypes

Monday, February 1st, 2010

Old Man River City Prototype (stadium shaped)

build.gif - 25.8 K

Brainstorming on Buckyworks: The Anthology

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 The Esthetics of Architecture
  • Chapter 2 Designing from the Inside Out
  • Chapter 3 A Dome in the Desert (a report from the field)
  • Chapter 4 Towards the Solar-Hydrogen Village
  • Chapter 5 Home Schooling in the Global Classroom
  • Chapter 6 Of Comfort Zones and Fuzzy Logic
  • Chapter 7 Untitled
  • Chapter 8 The User Interface [draft copy available for peer review]
  • Chapter 9 Globally Positioning your Home Sweet Home
  • Appendix (downloadable resources, web links and contacts)

This was a book proposal I put out after J. Baldwin’s BuckyWorks was successfully published by John Wiley & Sons. Applewhite was skeptical that it’d fly as an anthology. He was right.

Garden of Eden Prototypes


In BuckyWorks (© 1996 John Wiley & Sons), author J. Baldwin recounts his work with the Pillowdome (pg. 168-ff). His leak-proof prototype uses a frame made from recycled aluminium water pipe (from the Starnet International Corporation) and argon gas filled pillows made of Dupont’s fluoropolymer resin, Tefzel® (chemically similar to Teflon®).

Since Tefzel® allows full-spectrum sunlight to penetrate the dome’s interior, living and gardening areas may be creatively integrated.

Excessive humidity and overheating within these “Garden of Eden” prototypes remains a challenge however — Jay points to the Climatron in the Missouri Botanical Garden as a good approximation of what he’d like to achieve as an affordable living space option — but affordability would entail greater energy efficiency. He speculates that the “chilling machine” effect, a result of airflow patterns arising in some dome designs, might help keep the interior comfortable (e.g. see Fig 8-8, page 160).

For more info on the PillowDome, see:

Online reviews of J. Baldwin’s BuckyWorks:

Since Tefzel® allows full-spectrum sunlight to penetrate the dome’s interior, living and gardening areas may be creatively integrated.

Excessive humidity and overheating within these “Garden of Eden” prototypes remains a challenge however — Jay points to the Climatron in the Missouri Botanical Garden as a good approximation of what he’d like to achieve as an affordable living space option — but affordability would entail greater energy efficiency. He speculates that the “chilling machine” effect, a result of airflow patterns arising in some dome designs, might help keep the interior comfortable (e.g. see Fig 8-8, page 160).

For more info on the PillowDome, see:

Online reviews of J. Baldwin’s BuckyWorks:


Monday, February 1st, 2010

See below for information about how to get a listing.

Special note to vendors: Yes I still actively maintain this page. However, due to the volume of incoming, I sometimes space out or even lose a change, add or delete request. This happened recently, which is irksome, as the request also contained a lot of praise and gratitude for my having helped drive business to their website over the years. So then I go and lose the email. Moral: don’t be hesitant to send an email a second or third time, if you make a request and this page hasn’t changed in a day or two and you haven’t heard back (I should be able to do at least one or the other).

Check out my main page on geodesic domes for more links. Some additional resources are listed at the bottom of this page.

Manufacturer Contact Info Notes Verified
Albata Geodesics
900 C.R. 795
Montevallo, Al. 35115
Al and Patricia Burson
Tel: (205) 665-7505
custom built kits, design work and floor plans all kits come color coded and easy to assemble Spring 2000
Aluminum Geodesic Spheres (AGS)
4019 West Park Road
Hollywood, FL 33021
Edwin O’Toole
Tel: 305-625-9436
none Summer 1994
Aluminium Rheinfelden GmbH – VACONO
Friedrichstr. 80
D-79618 Rheinfelden
Dr. M. Miermeister
Tel. : (+49)(0)7623 / 93511
Fax : (+49)(0)7623 / 93547
E-mail :
all aluminium geodesic dome roof VACONODOME® Spring 1997
American Ingenuity
8777 Holiday Springs Road
Rockledge, FL 32955-5805
Tel: 407-639-8777
Fax: 407-639-8778
Planning Kit $10; Video $8; EPS Foam covered w/concrete Shells May 1995
Conservatek Industries, Inc.
498 Loop 336 East
Conroe, TX 77301
Tel: 409-539-1747
Fax: 409-539-5355
Toll free: 800-880-DOME
Manufactures of aluminum domes and aluminum covers April, 1997
CSC Domes
Rt 1, Box 233
St. Peter, MN 56082
Tel: 1-800-445-7547
Low-cost, temporary, inflatable geodesic, plastic covered domes. Semi-permament, steel pipe frame, aluminum or wood geodesic domes with covers. Easy assembly. ?
Dome Incorporated
2550 University Ave. W.,
Suite 455
St. Paul, MN 55114
Blair F. Wolfram
Tel: 612-333-3663
Steel frame geodesic domes, glass triangle windows, 2′ diameter to 74′ diameter. Any frequency. Steel, wood or polymers. High performance housing. December, 2001
Domes America
6345 West Jolie Road
Countryside, IL 60525
Tel: 708-579-9400 none ?
Domes International, Inc.
P.O. Box 137
Golden, MS 38847
Theresa & Hugh Mayhew
Voice: 1-888-454-7390
Fax: 1-662-454-3098
Energy-efficient, low-maintenance, fiber-glass dome homes April, 2000
Domes Northwest
319 N. Marguerite Road
Spokane Valley, WA 99212
Theresa & Hugh Mayhew
Voice: (208) 691-9996
Wood dome kits for residential or commercial structures. Dome building school offered. Assistance in design through construction available. June, 2004
Domespace Voice: 212-906-0175
Fax: 212-906-0176
Plans, construction (non-geodesic) April, 1997
DomEstic Designs
P.O. Box 4203
Bellevue, WA 98009
none none ?
Energy Structures, Inc.
893 Wilson Avenue
St.Paul, MN 55106
Kevin Frawley
Tel: 800-334-8144
Fax: 612-772-1207
Super-insulated dome homes, cabins, commercial structures. Free catalog. Fall 1998
Geo Tech Systems
1725 Kingwood St. #5
Florence, Oregon 97439
Tel: 541-997-5786
Fax: 541-997-5786
John Hackett
tensioned fabric domes, aluminum, fiberglass, and PVC frames, 12′ to 100′ February, 2001
Geodesic Domes, Inc. (GDI)
10290 Davison Road
Davison, MI 48423
Carlos McCarter
Tel: 313-653-2383
Brochure $8; Wood kits Oct 1990
Geodesic Domes & Homes
P.O. Box 575
Whitehouse, Texas 57591
Larry and Srandra Knackstedt
Info packet $10 November, 1997
GeoDomes Woodworks
6876 Indiana Avenue, Suite L
Riverside, CA 92514
Bob Davies & Glenn Van Doren
Tel: 909-787-8800
Fax: 909-787-7089
Home Planning Guide $15; Wood kits starting at $10,000 Summer 1994
Geometrica, Inc.
908 Town & Country Blvd. Ste. 330
Houston, TX 77024
Mr. Luis Enrico
Tel: (713)722-7555
Fax: (713)722-0331
large commercial and industrial geodesic domes and Freedomes® August, 1997
Good Karma Domes
3531 S.W. 42nd Street
Oklahoma City, OK 73119
James Lynch
Tel: (405) 685-4822
Plans and kits (hubless bolt-together design), heat-efficient insulated domes. June, 1999
P.O. Box 2351
La Mesa, CA 91943
Eugene E. Hopster
Free Video; Wood kits April, 1997
Inflatable Domes LLC
9864 E.Grand River,
Michigan, 48114, U.S.A.
Voice: [1]-888-410-1686
Backup: [1]-888-862-6528
Jesse Johnson
Light weight inflatable dome made of portable panels, connected with velcro-type material to cover sports fields and construction sites February, 2001
Island Domes
Libra Farms
Metal tube frame, PVC laminate skin, hydroponics July, 1999
Keystone Domes
313 Patterson Lane
Belle Vernon, PA  15012
(412) 579-6127
Fax (724) 929-3696
designs/builds large dome-shaped structures for storage of bulk materials, also culverts and tunnels. Short construction times, lower overall cost. November, 1999
P.O. Box 980427
Houston, TX 77098
Einar Thorsteinn EDC Booklet $20 (European design, 163 solutions, kits, math) Winter 1995
Kwickset Konstruction Kits
Klaus Zimmer Dome home plans, build-it-yourself kits Spring 1999
LEK Shelters
3760 Hancock st suite D
San Diego CA 92110
Tel: 1-619-995-3284
Modular shelter designs, kits, panels Nov 2005
Littlewood Geodesic Domes
7208 80 Ave
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6B 0C6
Tel: (403) 463-3004 or 970-3802
Wood frame, low cost relocatable shelters, frame kit with durable covering Dec 1997
Lobel Frame
31 rue Varengue
92340 Bourg La Reine
Tel: +33(0)146645325
Fax: +33(0)146641591
Alain Lobel
Architect: Space Structures
Forms and structures generated by identical elements
Nov 2000
Lydick’s Domes Unlimited
173 Harvey Rd.
Sarver PA 16055
Tel: 412 353 0098
Fax: 412 353 0098
Supplying wood frame, panelized domes up to 134′ in dia. Free supervision on installation of up to 60′ domes. Color catalogs, videos, construction manuals, and in house drafting and design services Jan 1996
Guy Massicotte geodesic dome designs Feb 1997
Monolithic Constructors, Inc.
P.O. Box 479-W
One Dome Park Place
Italy, TX 76651
Voice: 972 483-7423
Fax: 972 483-6662
$19.95 Video; Free brochure; Concrete Domes April, 1997
Nation’s Hoop Carpenters
P.O. Box 45
Boyertown, PA 19512
Steven J. Kennedy Metal, wood & cement domes Summer 1994
Natural Space Domes
37955 Bridge Road
North Branch, MN 55056
Dennis & Janet Johnson
Tel: 612-674-4292
Toll free: 800-733-7107
Fax: 612-674-5005
Super-insulated wood frame domes; Catalog & price list – special $3; 49 min &quotTour of Domes” video – $20; 94 page plan book – $11; dome constuction schools. April, 1997
North Face, The
999 Harrison Court
Berkeley, CA 94710
Hal Klopp & Bruce Hamilton
Tel: 415-527-9700
Geodesic Tents ?
Observa-DOME Laboratories, Inc.
371 Commerce Park Drive
Jackson, MS 39213
Tel: 601-982-3333
Observatory domes, missile silo covers. Note: these are not geodesic designs April, 1997
Oregon Dome, Inc.
3215 Meadow Lane
Eugene, OR 97402
Linda Boothe or Nathan Burke
(800) 572-8943
Fax: 541) 689-9275
free info, guide to construction management for $42.95 April, 1997
Pacific Domes
247 Granite St.
Ashland, OR 97520
Tel: 888-488-8127
Geo domes made from canvas and galvanized steel tubing, 12-44 feet in diameter, catalog November, 1999
Pond-Brook Products
P.O. Box 301
Franklin Lakes, NJ 07412
Gladys Payne Hexa-Pent Dome Plans $20 ?
Precision Structures LLC
2565 Potter Street
Eugene, OR 97405 Professional Dome Plans: Simple, detailed shop drawings and
formulas for building 3v icosa domes.
Summer 2002
1505 Webster Street
Richmond, VA 23220
Tel: 804-643-3184 none ?
Shelter Systems
224 West O’Connor
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Bob Gillis
Tel: Voice: 415-323-6202
Fax: 415-323-1220
Send $1 for info; Large dome tents, greenhouses, etc. Janurary 1996
Spitz Inc.
P.O. Box 198, Route 1
Chadds Ford, PA 19317
Tel: (610) 459-5200
Fax: (610) 459-3830
manufacturer of domed screens for planetariums and omni theaters April, 1997
Starnet International
200 Hope Street
Longwood, Florida 32750 USA
(407) 830-1199
Fax: (407) 830-1817
designers, engineers, fabricators & assemblers of spaceframes, arches & dome enclosures with integrated metal decking, membrane, glass & acrylic cladding options August 1996
Stromberg’s Chicks & Gamebirds
P.O. Box 400
Pine River, 4, MN 56474
Tel: 218-587-2222 $39.95 for Starplate struts to build a dome shed/greenhouse up to 14′ diam ?
Storex Systems Inc.
6772 Martin Street
PO Box 41
Pine River
Rome, NY 13440
Tel: 315-339-5151
Wood frame domes from 30′ in diameter to 150′ in diameter April, 1996
Synergetics, Inc.
122 Cox Ave.
Raleigh, NC 97206
Tel: 919-832-4011
Fax: 919-832-4011
in business since 1954, many large projects to its name July, 1999
PO Box 6256
24724 South Wilmington Ave
Carson, CA 90749
Clark Margolf
Tel: (310) 549-4311
or: (800) 421-2263
Fax: (310) 549-4588
Large aluminum commercial domes February, 2001
The Dome Company
47 Edward St.
Sylvania Heights
Sydney, NSW 2224
Rob Lusher
Tel/Fax: (02) 95226283
smaller type domes, particularly kit-set frames for shadehouses etc. May, 1998
Timberline Geodesics
2015 Blake Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
Robert M. Singer
Tel: 800-DOME-HOME
Fax: 510-849-3265
Catalog $12; Video $15; Wood kits Spring 1996
Tobel Domes
P.O. Box 310
Lakeside, CA 92040
Tom Boyle
Tel: 619-443-6503
Fax: 619-443-1108
Geodesic Dome kits to 130′ Dia
construction, roofing services
Plan/photo catalog $14
Winter, 1995
Topsider Homes
P.O. BOX 1490
Clemmons NC 27012
Tel: 910-766-9300 Round homes, not domes ?
Ulraflote Corporation
8558 Katy Frwy
Suite 100
Houston, Texas 77024
Tel: 713-461-2100
Fax: 713-461-2100
floating tank covers and aluminum geodesic Ultradome, for the petroleum industry and other sectors May, 1998
Western Wood Structures, Inc.
PO Box 130
Tualatin, Oregon, 97062
Tel: 503 692-6900
or 800 547-5411(USA)
Fax: 503 692-6434
Timber domes, some of the largest in the world November, 1996
WorldFlower Garden Domes
P.O. Box 3123
Fort Worth, Texas 76113
Tel: 888-945-3311
Fax: 817 921-6795
Ernie Aiken
Dome kits for gardens, related functions October, 1997

For further information see:

Publication Contact Info Notes Verified
Thomas Register of American Manufacturers
One Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Tel: 212-695-0500 See Volumes 1-10: Products & Services (in most libraries) 1994
National Association of Dome Manufacturers
2506 Gross Point Road
Evanston, IL 60201
none none Summer 1994
National Dome Council
15th & “M” Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202-822-0576 none ?
DOME (magazine)
4401 Zepher Street
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
Donald R. Hoflin
Tel: 303-934-5656
Quarterly; $40/yr Summer 1994
Email list devoted to geodesic dome homes: DomeHome-H. The list is owned by Hoflin Publishing, publishers of DOME magazine. To subscribe, send an email with the SUBJECT subscribe to

This list was initially based on a list provided by Joe Moore, the independent Bucky Fuller scholar. These days, I like to hear directly from officially authorized company representatives (e.g. owners, marketing) to request a listing, change of info, or deletion. I don’t have time to scour the web, publications, and so on, nor do I necessarily list companies that people post about, but don’t work for directly (the companies in question might not want a listing at my site, for whatever reason, or might want one with different information than what some third party provides).

Having a listing on this page does not constitute an endorsement by 4D Solutions (I have no intention of evaluating or rating all of these products and services). I may have had business relationships with some of these firms (e.g. been a customer, consultant, financeer or co-designer) or perhaps will in the future — but that’s irrelevant insofar as just getting a listing is concerned. I don’t need to know you or have had any dealings with your company to give you a listing. Just send me (Kirby) some email.

I am not experienced in home building myself (a little touching-up with caulk and spackle is about my speed) and currently live in a 1905 box home, not a dome. You can ask me questions about domes, but likely I’ll just refer you back to this page, which will connect you to people a lot more knowledgable and experienced than I in the domes department.

For an even more complete listing of dome suppliers, check Michael Rader’s listing and useful web site on domes.


Monday, February 1st, 2010



Geodesic domes are fractional parts of complete geodesic spheres. Actual structures range from less than 5% to 100% (a full sphere). The Spaceship Earth Pavilion constructed by Tishman Construction for AT&T at Disney’s Epcot is the best-known example of a full sphere.


Picture of Applet

Geodesic spheres and domes come in various frequencies. The frequency of a dome relates to the number of smaller triangles into which it is subdivided. A high frequency dome has more triangular components and is more smoothly curved and sphere-like. If your web browser is Java-enabled, you can interact with the exhibit on Frequency above.






Fuller realized that spheres packed around a nuclear sphere in successive layers give a cuboctahedral shape, which may be distorted into an icosahedron or octahedron via what he called the jitterbug transformation.


animated GIF by Richard HawkinsThe network of rods between adjacent spheres in a hollow icosahedral packing gives the framework for the classic geodesic sphere. Geodesic domes may also be based on other polyhedra, such as the octahedron and tetrahedron.



Class I

The classic geodesic sphere is composed of 20 curved triangles, each of which corresponds to one facet of the icosahedron, a 20-faceted polyhedron. Each of the 20 triangles is curved because it is subdivided into smaller triangles, the corners of which are all pushed out to a constant distance from the sphere’s center. The pattern used for this subdividing into smaller triangles is used to classify domes into classes I, II and III.


For further reading

  • Brainstorming on BuckyWorks
  • Re EPCOT etc. [1][2][3]
  • The Project Renaissance model for prototyping in the public sector
  • New Circuit Designs for Motherboard Earth

    Monday, February 1st, 2010

    By Kirby Urner
    4 June 1995

    I propose we look at Starship Earth (Buckminster Fuller’s metaphor for our planet) using another metaphor as well: that of Motherboard Earth.

    I tip my hat to the criticism that this is another off-base nerdy engineering lens through which to misperceive a living planet and that, although the “mother” part is apt, linking to circuit boards is just more Newtonian mechanism, more of which we simply don’t need.

    But I don’t see it that way myself. I think of the powerful film images I’ve seen linking urban-scapes from high altitudes with microchips. Good native American-sounding titles like Powaqqatsi and Koyanisqaatsi come to mind (both interesting films). And the energy bathing our motherboard is more than metaphorically electrical.

    In sum, I don’t see “motherboard” as necessarily whiteman talk at all, but a clear-eyed snapshot of what, in fact, our eco-economy is: a set of spherical circuits, layer upon layer, some phased in with humans just a split second ago, on the geologic timescale.


    Moving on, I look at the psychology of banking, which seems to view this pool of liquid capital, called gold or currency or whatever it is that’s convertible to just about anything of value, as the one thing we cannot afford to “leak” away. The whole investment banking circuitry is about wiring up projects and programs and powering them with “juice” (liquid capital) only if it appears the return will exceed the investment. The only electronics on the motherboard that interests bankers is the kind that “nets a return” meaning it has to return all the juice received, and then some.

    If I think of my computer as the motherboard, and the wire plugged into the wall as my umbilical link to the sun, then I start to wonder about the intelligence of microcode which plans to starve motherboard assets which are not designed to amplify and return juice. I mean, the way a computer is designed is like a water wheel: current flows downhill to the ground, in the meantime turning wheels which turn other wheels and so on. Yes, the liquid electricity all drains out the bottom, but serious work got done in the meantime. Capacitors and storage batteries pool current for a time, before allowing it to surge onward (the banking idea of savings). But nowhere is the motherboard (the computer I’m using) designed to return juice to the wall let alone “with interest.”

    I look at TV images of human skeletons, either getting a little charity, or dying in droves, or both, with economists off to the side shaking their heads: no way to organize these humans into projects which will net a return to the bankers, and we can’t allow our precious “juice” to just “leak away.” So we let our human families starve to death.

    That’s just the way it is … but is nature our model here, or banking? The sun is broadcasting terawatts of energy in our direction, second by second. What we do is insert our programmable circuitry, our gizmos, our wheels turning wheels, and reap the benefits. Within this game, we have liquid asset accounts, and transactions, and trade. But the overall big picture is of a motherboard plugged into the sun and human circuitry that is designed to starve large portions of the motherboard based on some dogma about needing to retain precious liquid, currency, without regard for the true state of affairs, which is that the great global ecosystem is not about returning juice to the sun, anymore than my computer is about returning juice to the wall socket. Doing useful work, yes. Keeping energy from flowing downhill, no way.


    So that’s why I propose General Systems Theory, which has a clear view of the sun-powered motherboard, the humanly programmable circuitry which interlayers with nonhuman circuitry, and the pain and suffering of numerous humans who are left out because they don’t have magic ‘juice returning powers’ — why I propose that GST build itself as antithetical to the juice-worshipping tribes who use their primitive ‘economics’ to justify the status quo media programming.

    GST takes inventory of human inventions, artifacts, and storyboards multi-media deployment scenarios, casting humans in new, interesting, intelligent roles, and sees that we have the props, and the actors necessary, to make the real-world scenario entitled: Humans Make a Success of Themselves (lots of subplots). But instead, the old curriculum directors continue to produce episode after episode of The Great Tragedy, claiming that they are the sophisticated ones, whereas we, the success-oriented directors, are naive, because we don’t properly understand their Theory of Juice.

    GST has a different view of juice, it’s true. I say we can afford to drive programming, using solar inputs, that will not only prevent starvation, but enroll the starving in new distance education programs that nets them lots of other relevant assets besides food: medical care, shelter, information, entertainment, vehicles for self-expression, opportunities to see more of the planet before they die. I say we don’t have to expect our global university students to pay back their scholarships in any silly literal kind of way, but that the work of learning a living, of demonstrating competence, of being a star in world game scenarios worthy of high caliber acting, is repayment enough.

    Do the work of Making Humans a Success, and forget about ‘netting a return’ in the traditional bankers’ sense. Create wealth (life support), not just more money, and find out how much better off we will all find ourselves in short order. Lets co-invent General Systems Theory to light the way forward. And lets leave Economics behind, in the current Dark Age, where it belongs.


    • NewCiv: Whole Systems (reprint)
    • CyRev: issue #3
    • Gemini Newsletter (Greater Edmonton Mensa Interesting News and Information),
      Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: Volume Eighteen, Number Four, May 1996.



    Monday, February 1st, 2010



    50 foot dome by Cascade Domes and Shelters

    The first contemporary geodesic dome on record is Walter Bauersfeld’s, who realized the utility of projecting the constellations on the inner surface of an icosasphere, Omnimax-style, thereby creating a breakthrough planetarium in Jena, Germany, in 1922.

    Fuller derived his geodesic dome from general principles independently of Bauresfeld, just as he derived the octet truss without knowing of Alexander Graham Bell’s implementation of this same naturally occuring phenomenon.

    Fuller’s geodesic spheres and domes emerged synergetically from his philosophical “explorations in the geometry of thinking“. In this self-discipline, the variably frequenced icosasphere links up with the jitterbug and sphere packing concepts (see dome geometry).


    The spherical high frequency icosahedron also suggests a grid of triangles which may be used to transfer global data from a sphere to an unfoldable icosahedron (another concept that would have excited Bauersfeld). The geodesic dome and the Fuller Projection both derive from the same general principles.For further reading



    Fuller aniticipated that domes, along with other alternative dwelling designs, would likely become artifacts within a new World Livingry Service Industry. Economies of scale would give people affordable housing options, along with ways to seamlessly connect with multimedia-based work-study telecommunication systems. The new dwelling machines would deploy alongside more traditional neighborhood structures and different cultures would customize them to integrate with local designs and routines.

    Some models would feature a very high degree of energy autonomy, and their deployment in remote areas would be without lasting disruption of the ecosystem — a supporting tripod would make it unecessary to pour concrete, and helicopter delivery and pickup would keep construction crews and equipment from despoiling the landscape.

    Here’s a video of me (Kirby) talking about more recent history. The clip is from 2003 (which is also when I did the editing), whereas I made it available as a Google live video in 2005 (November).

    For further reading